Virginia company proposes 30 wind turbines for eastern Maine

COLUMBIA, Maine (AP) — A Virginia-based wind energy firm has proposed the construction of 30 wind turbines in Maine.

The proposed turbines would be spread out on three sides of a 7,000-acre (2833-hectare) plus area of mostly state owned and protected land, Downeast Wind project officials said at a Columbia town meeting Thursday.

Downeast Wind is an energy project by the company Apex Lean Energy based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Opponents of the turbines, many of whom are owners of camps on Schoodic Lake, said the turbines would negatively impact the enjoyment of an area where the same families have gone for generations, Bangor Daily News reported.

Robert McKay, of Bangor, owns a seasonal camp on the north shore of Schoodic Lake and said many people who camp there also spend time on the nearby Pleasant River, which stretches roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Beddington to Addison.

“There are plenty of places where you (will be able to) see the turbines on the river,” McKay said. “It is going to ruin a generational way of life.”

The turbines would stand 650 feet (198 meters) tall, which is double the height of the Statue of Liberty and 200 feet (61 meters) higher than the average U.S. wind turbine.

The proposed sites exceed local and state property setback requirements, said Paul Williamson, senior development manager for Downeast Wind, and lease agreements have been set up with multiple property owners should the project be approved. He said the company has made an effort to contact all the camp owners around Schoodic Lake to hear their concerns — though some of the camp owners responded that they have only been contacted in recent weeks.

If the project is approved and developed, Williamson said, it would provide $7.5 million in tax revenue and other benefits to the town of Columbia and $11.5 million in tax revenue and benefits for Washington County over the projected 25-year lifespan of the project.

“There’s a very good wind resource here,” Williamson said. “These projects are needed throughout New England. There’s a very high demand.”

Williamson estimated that permitting the project will take a year and construction likely wouldn’t be completed until 2022.

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